Turning Points


 Vintage Car and Topiary #3, originally uploaded by neocles.


I had decided early in 2007 that I really wanted to get back into photography and that I wanted a decent DSLR for the family trip to Greece. So in spring I got the Nikon D40x and started trying to learn it and get used to seeing my world through the viewfinder.

I got a fair amount of practice in before the trip and took over 700 shots while there. That was a lot of shots to curate and process, so I slowed up on shooting for a couple weeks. Of course, I threw hundreds away. And there were few that were any good at all.

It didn’t seem like I was getting anywhere very fast trying to improve my photographic skills, at least not insofar as satisfying myself with the results went. But then in October I took some shots around the neighborhood and also landed on a post-processing approach that resulted in a look I really liked a lot. It was a turning point of sorts.

I guess what is going on in these photos is this. Sarah and I have been into vintage “everything” for a long time—deco, 50s, space-age, etc.—ever since our punk/new wave days in the early 80s. My middle-aged nostalgia has ramped this up lately. And obviously I am not alone in this as there is a pretty huge retro scene that has moved from the underground into the mainstream.

And of course, flickr provides a great forum for people interested in documenting the cars, buildings, furniture, signs, graphics, and ephemera of the last century. In terms of photography, I enjoy documenting this disappearing world. I try to photograph it in the wild, as it were. In other words, I don’t seek out shows or conventions where stuff is on display. Rather, I am interested in things in their natural context of use.

This leads to the second part of the turning point, which is the processing of the image to look more like an old photograph of a “new car” than like a pristine digital shot of an “old car”. But not quite. There’s a juxtaposition of old and new together in the image that I can’t quite articulate, but that is part of what I am trying to get to. If I were reading more about art and photography, I would have a ready-made description of the approach I am struggling here to describe.

Chimpin' ain't easy

Another important influence is my co-worker Joe Reifer. Talking with Joe and going out together for a lunchtime stroll to shoot has taught me lots. Joe is a great photographer and has been very generous with his knowledge of photography, on everything from taping up a Holga to the business of selling usage rights for one’s work. I can’t thank him enough. And this shot of Joe and the Travelall was really popular among flickrfolk!


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